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'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial': 30 Years, 30 Fascinating Facts

By InCinemas  /  07 Nov 2012 (Wednesday)
Source: Universal
Distributed by Innoform Media
When an imaginative boy meets a lost alien, it is the beginning of one of cinema's most endearing friendships as Elliot (Henry Thomas) helps the marvelous creature he calls E.T. find his way back home before government agents can capture him.

Hit the jump below for 30 fascinating facts about the movie and get your hands on E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (Anniversary Edition) for the first time on Blu-ray!

He was afraid. He was alone. He was 3 million light years from home. But in 1982, he came from all the way from outer space, and into the hearts of millions, becoming the unlikely star of the biggest film the world had ever seen, and sparking a worldwide phenomenon. Now, after 30 years, the squat little alien with big eyes and a big heart is coming back to help celebrate Universal’s 100th anniversary.

(Visit happybuy.me for online purchase of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-Ray Disc)

'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial': 30 Years, 30 Fascinating Facts
  1. Director Steven Spielberg says he came up with the basic plot of E.T. when he was a child. “A boy who finds an alien – I had that story in my brain from childhood,” he said in 2002.

  2. The story was partly inspired by the divorce of Spielberg’s parents in 1960, with the future director imagining “a friend who could be the brother I never had and a father I didn’t feel I had any more.”

  3. Spielberg’s original plan was to follow up Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a film about malevolent aliens attacking a farm house. When this story evolved into E.T., Spielberg turned the aliens into ghosts for the film which would become Poltergeist.

  4. The script, originally titled E.T. And Me, was written by Melissa Mathison (The Black Stallion) who, at the time, was married to Harrison Ford. She and Spielberg fleshed out the story while on location in Tunisia shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  5. It took Mathison eight weeks to write the screenplay, the same amount of time it took to shoot the film. Principal photography was completed just in time for Christmas 1981.

  6. Mathison got the idea for E.T.’s alien powers – for example, the ability to fly, and to heal others by touch – by asking children what special powers they would most like to have.

  7. Testing for the role of Elliott, the boy befriended by E.T., 11-year-old Henry Thomas nailed the audition so spectacularly you can hear Spielberg say, “Okay, kid, you got the job.”

  8. Six-year-old Drew Barrymore met with Spielberg as possible casting for the little girl in Poltergeist, but the director immediately saw her in the role of Gertie, Elliott’s baby sister.

  9. Among the actors who almost appeared in E.T. The Extra-terrestrial are Cheers actress Shelley Long, who was offered the role of Elliott’s mother; and Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear), who auditioned for the role of Gertie.

  10. Spielberg originally planned to make it at Columbia Pictures, which had produced Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and had first refusal on a follow-up. Columbia passed on the script, believing it to be “a wimpy Walt Disney movie” which would never make its money back.

  11. Mars, Inc. famously refused the filmmakers permission to include M&Ms in the film, because they did not want their trademark treat to be associated with a character as ugly as E.T. Spielberg used the newly-launched Reese’s Pieces instead.

  12. In order to maintain secrecy during shooting, E.T. was filmed under the working title A Boy’s Life.

  13. Carlo Rambaldi, who designed E.T. and created the maquettes, puppets and wearable suit, had previously designed the aliens for Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The design was partly based on a figure from Rambaldi’s painting “Women of Delta.”

  14. Spielberg’s sound designer, Ben Burtt, pieced together E.T.’s distinctive voice from a number of sources, including an elderly Marin County woman named Pat Welsh.

  15. Michael Jackson’s song “Someone in the Dark” was recorded for the 1982 album E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Story Book Album, which was narrated by Jackson and produced, like the same year’s 'Thriller', by Quincy Jones.

  16. A scene featuring Raiders of the Lost Ark star Harrison Ford as Elliott’s teacher was cut from the final release version, although elements of the scene remain. Spielberg chose not to reinstate it for the 1982 re-release.

  17. Although largely animatronic, at several points during filming, E.T. was played by two dwarves, Tamara De Treaux and Pat Bilon, and 12-year-old Matthew De Meritt, who was born without legs.

  18. E.T. The Extra-terrestrial cost only $10.5 million to make, a tenth of the budget being spent on the animatronic puppets required to bring E.T. to ‘life’.

  19. Folk artist James Taylor recorded a song, “Song For You Far Away”, which was intended to be used in the movie. It was eventually included on his 1985 album That’s Why I’m Here.

  20. Spielberg first began to suspect that E.T. would be a success when the film achieved off-the-chart test scores at a preview screening.

  21. After premiering as the closing gala of the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, E.T. opened in the US on 11 June 1982. The film went straight in at no.1, remaining at the top spot for six weeks.

  22. By Christmas 1982, when the film reclaimed the no.1 spot in the box office charts, E.T. had become the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing the success of George Lucas’ Star Wars.

  23. The following year, E.T. was nominated for nine Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Although it was beaten by Gandhi, the film ultimately won four Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects.

  24. One of home video’s earliest successes, E.T. The Extra-terrestrial was the biggest-selling and most-rented video cassette of the 1980s.

  25. Michael Jackson, who won a Grammy award for his spoken-word album based on the film, claimed to identify with the little lost alien. “He’s in a strange place and wants to be accepted, which is a situation that I have found myself in many times when travelling from city to city all over the world,” he said. “He gives love and wants love in return, which is me. He and I are alike in many ways.”

  26. E.T. held the global box office record until 1993, when it was surpassed by another Universal-produced Steven Spielberg film, Jurassic Park.

  27. For the 20th anniversary re-release, Steven Spielberg took a leaf out of his friend George Lucas’s book, and digitally tweaked the film.

  28. E.T. The Extra-terrestrial was voted one of the 25 greatest films of all time by an American Film Institute poll. In 1994, the film was selected for preservation by the U.S. National Film Registry, which preserves movie classics.

  29. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial has been re-released three times in three decades: in 1985, 2002, and in 2012.

  30. Although Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison collaborated on a treatment entitled E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, Spielberg never seriously considered the possibility of an E.T. sequel, feeling that it would rob the original of its special qualities.

David Hughes
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